It's been a while since I put down my brushes and left unfinished the oil of the Hillman Special in the welder's workshop. I've since received a commission to copy The Lacemaker, one of the paintings in the Vermeer exhibition now in Amsterdam. My visit to the Ateneum Museum in Helsinki which houses part of the Finnish National Gallery, couldn't have come at a better time - just to see one mid-19thC work from the collection was enough to inspire.
Albert Edelfelt's retrospective is a joy to fans of realism. "Boys Playing on the Beach" 1884, is, after his celebrated portrait of Louis Pasteur, one of Edelfelt's most famous works and further propelled him on the road to fame.
"La Reponse" (Lady Writing a Letter) 1887. Albert Edelfelt.
"Divine Service in Uusimaa" 1881. This belongs to the Musee d'Orsay. Edelfelt spent much of his life in Paris.
"At Sea" 1883. Albert Edelfelt.
"Girl Knitting a Sock" 1886. Albert Edelfelt.
"Study for the Scandinavian Artists' Lunch at Cafe Leydoyen" 1885. Hugo Birger.
"Pasture in Hame" 1881. Hjalmar Munsterhjelm. I don't always pay much attention to landscapes, but this one reminded me of my travels with Cook near Pau in France, where the valley bottoms meet the foothills of the Pyrenees.
I didn't make notes about this painting, but it's very typical of the topography in Southern Finland where we're working.
"Lost". 1886. Akseli Gallen-Kallela. At a distance, the girl bears an uncanny resemblance to a contemporary figure. In that context, the work might one day be hailed as prophetic.
"The Bride's Song" 1881. Gunner Berndston.
"First Lesson" 1887-89. Akseli Gallen-Kallela.
"Under the Yoke" (Burning the Brushwood) 1893. Eero Jarnefelt. This painting, and I quote from the notice, "was named after a line in the Kalevala about a maiden servant. The figures in the painting are burning the brushwood so that the ashes may fertilise the land, an ancient and inefficient farming method. The painting has been regarded as social criticism, a depiction of the plight of the poor in a region unfavourable to agriculture. This interpretation is supported by the bitter expression of the little girl and the bulge of her stomach, indicating prolonged malnutrition." Apropos of nothing, the blurb continues fashionably, "From a contemporary perspective, the painting can also serve as a reminder of humanity's role in shaping the environment and altering the climate." Really?